Building Your Dream Dock: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 7 October 2015

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You've finally purchased your dream home -- that little parcel of land that borders the local lake -- and you can't wait to sit out on the back deck and enjoy the scenic view. But just looking at the lake is only half the fun. You bought waterfront property for a reason: you wanted to spend time on the lake as well as beside it. This is where a specialist in marine construction can step in and answer both your prayers and any questions you have regarding that dock you plan to have built. Wondering what types of docks are available? Guessing at the materials you'll need to purchase? Trust a marine contractor to tell you all you need to know:

Which Type of Dock Works Best for Lakes?

This depends on how busy your lake is during peak times. There are two types of docks -- floating and stationary. The one you choose will greatly impact how much enjoyment you'll get when you sit out on your dock reading the next best seller or fishing for the next big trophy. If you're building a dock on a large, busy lake -- one that's frequented by power boats, jet skis and more, a stationary dock is probably best. If you construct a floating dock in the middle of busy water traffic, expect to spend most of your time feeling seasick. Floating docks move when the water moves, and if yours is constantly churning, you won't get much enjoyment from your investment. 

What Type of Material Should I Use?

Docks can be constructed from a variety of materials, including wood, aluminum, and composite, to name just a few options. When planning your dock, consult with your marine contractor to learn about the benefits and disadvantages of each:

  • Wood: Wooden docks have a certain rustic charm that fits in well with a lakeside cottage. But it's also a material that needs almost constant upkeep. The wood used must be pressure treated lumber, and you'll have to re-seal it regularly to keep rot and insects at bay. A benefit of using wood in the construction of your dock is that if a section of decking goes bad, it's easy and affordable to replace. 
  • Aluminum: Aluminum's claim to fame is its light weight that makes it a perfect choice for floating docks. This type of dock is virtually maintenance free. It requires no sealing, no treatments of any kind to prevent rust or corrosion. Aluminum will never splinter, rot or decay like wood. One of the only drawbacks to using aluminum as a docking material however is appearance. Aluminum is a sleek, modern choice that may not reflect the rustic feel you're hoping to create. 
  • Composite: Docks made from composite fiberglass are fast and easy to construct, they're lightweight, and they'll last for 25 years or more. Like aluminum, composite requires no special maintenance to keep it looking and performing well. This type of dock can also be constructed using a slip-resistant surface that's great for helping prevent slip, trip and fall injuries. 

What Sort of Maintenance is Required?

Regardless of which material you choose, every dock requires some form of regular maintenance, even if it's only a quick power wash at the beginning of every season. You'll want to have someone in to inspect your dock at regular intervals to ensure that the pieces are holding up as they should. Typical maintenance includes repairing or replacing section of decking from time to time, replacing barrels, hardware, and chains, and patching holes in platforms. 

When it's time to begin building the boat dock of your dreams, hire a marine contractor to get it right the first time. Marine construction is a science all its own, and it takes into account specialized problems with which a regular contractor may not be familiar.